‘Once again, the writer stains the tree of history with his thoughts, but it is not for us to find the trick that would enable us to put the animal back in its carrying cage‘
– Osip Mandelstam, ‘The End of the Novel’ (epigraph HHhH)
In 2010, the French writer Laurent Binet published HHhH—‘Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich’, [Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich]—a work that would soon become a worldwide bestseller. In his book, Binet brings to life a peculiar event in history: the assassination of the notorious Nazi official, Reinhard Heydrich, also known as the Butcher of Prague. HHhH, more than a meticulous historical reconstruction, is a novel that deals with the author’s dilemma, stuck between the past and present, between fact and fiction. How should we remember Europe’s loaded history, and what can literature contribute to this remembrance? What position, and what responsibility must the author take up in representing European history?
Laurent Binet explores these issues in conversation with the Dutch journalist and non-fiction writer Frank Westerman, author of acclaimed bestsellers such as De Slag om Srebrenica (2015) and Stikvallei (2014). Travel along with these two authors as they navigate the planes of European history, questioning how the past has shaped the Europe of today.
Pieter van der Wielen, presentator of the nightly literary radio programme “Nooit Meer Slapen”, will interview these two special writers.
This programme will be in English.
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